Opinion No. 131
from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Gregory M.
Moeller, District Judge.
district court's summary judgment is affirmed.
Costs and attorney fees on appeal are granted to the Trust.
Ohman & Brandstetter, Chtd., Idaho Falls, attorneys for
appellant. John Ohman argued.
& Larsen, Chtd., Pocatello, attorneys for respondent.
Gary Cooper argued.
Nature of the Case
B. McCarty ("McCarty" or "Appellant")
appeals a grant of summary judgment in which the district
court held that a quitclaim deed granting certain real
property to McCarty (the "Quitclaim Deed") was
unenforceable as a matter of law because it did not contain
an adequate description of the subject property. The
following issues were raised on appeal: (1) whether Idaho
Code section 55-606 bars the grantors' successors in
interest from challenging the enforceability of the Quitclaim
Deed that the grantors themselves executed; (2) whether the
district court erred in striking evidence of the
grantors' intent at the time they executed the deed; (3)
whether the district court erred in finding that the
Quitclaim Deed did not contain an adequate description of the
subject property; (4) whether the district court erred by
holding that the grantors were thereafter prevented from
transferring the property by an amendment to the trust
documents; and (6) whether the district court erred in
concluding that the doctrines of 'reformation, '
'interlineation, ' and 'correction deed' were
not applicable. Both sides request attorney's fees and
costs on appeal.
Factual and Procedural Background
April 23, 1990, David E. Benton ("David") and
Marvel C. Benton ("Marvel" and with David, the
"Bentons") established a joint revocable living
trust in Bonneville County, Idaho, which they entitled the
"DAVID AND MARVEL BENTON TRUST, dated April 23,
1990" (the "Trust"). The Trust's
foundational documents named David and Marvel as both the
"Grantors" and the "Trustees" of the
1, 2010, David and Marvel executed the Quitclaim Deed, which
purported to convey certain real property owned by the Trust
to McCarty. The property subject to the Quitclaim Deed is
described therein as follows:
The property at 550 Linden Drive and the building known as
Benton Engineering building located upon the property and all
adjacent parking lots to the South of the Building and to the
West of the Building and right of access into the parking lot
located at 550 Linden Drive, Idaho Falls, Idaho located in
Bonneville County and more commonly known as the Benton
Engineering Office Building.
November 1, 2010, David and Marvel executed the Second and
Irrevocable Amendment to the David and Marvel Benton Trust
(the "Second Amendment"). The Second Amendment
named two of David and Marvel's children-David Eugene
Benton II ("David II") and Barbara Baker
("Baker")-as "Family Co-Trustees." It
established that any future action taken by the Trust would
have to be authorized by at least one Family Co-Trustee.
April 24, 2012, McCarty attempted to record the Quitclaim
Deed with the Bonneville County Recorder's Office.
Shortly thereafter, she received a letter from the Bonneville
County Assessor indicating that: (1) "grantor name is
not identical to record owner's name"; (2)
"parcel legal description is not complete"; and (3)
"parcel legal description is not sufficiently certain
for accurate assessment."
4, 2012, McCarty recorded a revised version of the Quitclaim
Deed (the "Revised Quitclaim Deed") with the
Bonneville County Recorder's Office. The Revised
Quitclaim Deed contained an attachment describing the
conveyed property as follows:
Beginning at the Northeast corner of the Benton Engineering
office building property, said point lying
S89°30'30"E, 120.52 feet and
S65°52'00"E, 103.50 feet and
S59°34'00"E, 162.95 feet of the Northwest corner
of Linden Park Addition, Division No. 1 to the City of Idaho
Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, said point of beginning
lying on the westerly ROW line of Linden Drive, and running
thence N59°34'00"W, along the northerly line of
said property, 128.00 feet; thence S30°26'00"W,
123.00 feet; thence S50°29'26"E, 116.18 feet to
said westerly ROW line of Linden Drive; thence along said
westerly line, 142.05 feet along the arc of a 1096.74 foot
radius curve to the left, whose long chord bears
N35°47'57"E, 141.95 feet to the point of
beginning. Said property lying in the North half of Section
20, T. 2 N., R. 38 E.B.M.
Contains 0.375 acres, more or less.
Revised Quitclaim Deed was signed by David and Marvel but was
not signed by either of the Family Co-Trustees.
April 9, 2013, the Trust filed a Complaint to Quiet Title and
for Accounting (the "Complaint") seeking a
determination that McCarty had no right or interest to any
the Trust's real property, including the property
described in the Revised Quitclaim Deed, and seeking a
monetary judgment against McCarty for the use, rents and
profits of said property since July 1, 2010.
September 25, 2013, McCarty moved for summary judgment
against the Trust. On January 3, 2014, the Trust moved for
summary judgment against McCarty. In conjunction with the
cross-motions for summary judgment, McCarty filed twenty-four
affidavits, many of which contained testimony as to what
David and Marvel told the respective affiants regarding their
intent in drafting the Quitclaim Deed. On January 3, 2014,
and September 2, 2014, the Trust moved to strike certain
testimony offered by McCarty.
October 31, 2014, the district court issued its Memorandum
Decision on Parties' Cross-Motions for Summary judgment.
In that decision the district court held as follows: (1)
"the Court will strike all statements from the
affidavits [filed by McCarty] that purport to describe David
and Marvel's intent, understanding, and/or capacity on
relevance grounds. . . . David and Marvel's intent at the
time they signed the deeds is not a material fact for
purposes of the issue presented on summary
"whether a property description is legally sufficient is
a question of law for the court to decide"; (3)
"the original Quitclaim Deed is void because it did not
provide an adequate legal description of the property";
(4) "[b]ecause the [Second Amendment] unambiguously bars
David and Marvel from acting as the only two signors on
behalf of the trust, they did not have power to sign the
[R]evised Quitclaim Deed in [sic] behalf of the Trust";
(5) "[t]he doctrines of reformation, interlineation, and
'correction deed' do not apply and cannot remedy the
inadequacies of the first Quitclaim Deed."
January 16, 2015, McCarty moved for reconsideration of the
district court's decision on summary judgment. Therein,
McCarty repeated her arguments that the property description
in the Quitclaim Deed was sufficient as a matter of law. She
attached new expert affidavits in support along with a
property survey performed by Kim Leavitt.
April 17, 2015, the district court entered its Memorandum
Decision and Order on Defendant's Motion for
Reconsideration. Therein, the district court denied
McCarty's motion for reconsideration. It noted that: (1)
"[j]ust because an expert believes he or she can
interpret the intent of a legal description does not mean it
complies with the statute of frauds, " and (2) "the
new survey prepared by Leavitt supports the [c]ourt's
prior ruling. Leavitt's recent survey utilizes a
'reconciled boundary' which clearly could not have
originated solely from the description contained in the
Standard of Review
This Court Reviews Evidentiary Rulings for Abuse of
When reviewing the trial court's evidentiary rulings,
this Court applies an abuse of discretion standard.
Dulaney v. St. Alphonsus Reg'l Med. Ctr., 137
Idaho 160, 163-64, 45 P.3d 816, 819-20 (2002). "To
determine whether a trial court has abused its discretion,
this Court considers whether it correctly perceived the issue
as discretionary, whether it acted within the boundaries of
its discretion and consistently with applicable legal
standards, and whether it reached its decision by an exercise
of reason." Perry v. Magic Valley Reg'l Med.
Ctr., 134 Idaho 46, 51, 995 P.2d 816, 821 (2000).
State v. Jones, 160 Idaho 449,, 375 P.3d 279, 280
This Court reviews Grants of Summary Judgment De
On appeal from the grant of a motion for summary judgment, we
review that decision de novo but apply the same standard used
by the district court in ruling on the motion.
McColm-Traska v. Valley View Inc., 138 Idaho 497, 65
P.3d 519 (2003); Carnell v. Barker Management, Inc.,
137 Idaho 322, 48 P.3d 651 (2002). As a general rule, this
Court will affirm the judgment "if the pleadings,
depositions, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." I.R.C.P. 56(c);
Carnell, 137 Idaho at 327, 48 P.3d at 656. When
making its determination, the Court construes all facts in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Cascade Auto Glass, Inc. v. Idaho Farm Bureau Ins.
Co., 141 Idaho 660, 662, 115 P.3d 751, 753 (2005).
Idaho Code section 55-606 does not bar the Trust's quiet